Life in Balance, Part 1: What Is Health?

Part 1. What Is Health?

by Elena Greco

LIFE IN BALANCE is a series exploring health: What it really is, how to get it and how to maintain it, easily and naturally.

Read other parts of the series here: Life in Balance.

Typical reading time: 4 minutes

Part 1. What Is Health?

I want to start by asking a question: What is health? Sometimes asking the right question is the key to getting the right answer.

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a licensed health professional, such as medical doctor or a naturopath. So in case you’re wondering why I’m in a position to speak about health—or how I happened to become an integrative holistic coach, healer and counselor with a life-long fascination in the human body-mind—I’ll begin at the beginning.

Many people in my mother’s family were in medicine. In my early years, I spent summers with my maternal grandparents. Sometimes my grandmother, who was a nurse in a small town who sometimes worked for my cousin, a doctor, would take me to work with her—a great treat for my small self! Sometimes the doc took me in with him to see patients (something that was easily tolerated in a small town in the mid-20th century; his patients seemed to enjoy seeing me). There was a big, wooden revolving chair in his office (I loved spinning round and round in that chair!), and lots of medical books filled with fascinating pictures. I loved to read from a very early age, and my grandmother had medical books at home, too, which I skimmed at every opportunity and grasped enough of to be intrigued.

So early on I developed an interest in the human body. I took Biology and Human Biology in both middle and secondary school because I loved biology and studying the human body. In high school I became passionately interested in psychology, and in college I developed an additional interest in nutrition, both of which continue to this day.

I began studying several non-allopathic healing traditions, including naturopathic, homeopathic and Ayurvedic traditions, in particular Ayurveda. I studied the nature and practice of healing and how to facilitate transformation in others with Kamala Hope-Campbell, a former student of Stanislov Grof and colleague of Timothy Leary and John Lilly, and became certified in several healing techniques. (See more here.) I read everything I could get my hands on related to health and healing over a period of decades, coming from all points of view, including Western medical studies. I studied the work of Werner Erhard, Muktananda, Peter Russell and Adyashanti. I trained with leading teachers, both individually and in workshops, and experimented on myself extensively with my discoveries. I continue to review research and studies in all areas of health, in particular those related to nutrition and autoimmune disorders, and to stay current on legitimate (that is, non-pharmaceutical-funded and -promoted) science related to health.

My background includes decades of experience and training in leading groups and working with individuals, certifications in a variety of healing modalities, and five decades of study in the areas of psychology, communication, trauma, nutrition, physiology, Ayurveda, meditation, consciousness and the body-mind relationship.

Among many areas of focused study and training in psychological, physiological, energetic and consciousness-enhancing modalities and practices, the following were useful credentials:

– certification in BRETH™, a transformational context and practice for healing, by Kamala Hope-Campbell, who worked and trained with Stanislav Grof, Timothy Leary and John Lilly;
– certification in MariEl™ healing by founder Ethel Lombardi, one of the ten original Reiki healing masters in this country;
– certification in CranioSacral therapy;
– certification as a Bach Flower Remedy® practitioner;
– certification in CPR/First Aid;
– a degree in Counseling Psychology / Human Development (SUNY); and
– advanced training in Creativity Coaching by Eric Maisel.

I’ve been a holistic healer, counselor, and group facilitator since the 1980s. I now practice as an integrative holistic coach. I’m also a writer, musician, and producer of multi-genre, multi-media music concerts and recordings, many of which have themes related to mental health and the environment.

I’m passionate in learning about health, and currently about educating the public about health. If you had told me thirty years ago that pharmaceutical company propaganda about health would still be intertwined with and dominating the practice of medicine in this country at this point in time, I would have had a hard time believing you. I assumed that as information spread, the public would learn the truth and American healthcare would reflect that. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. In fact, it is worse than that.

And that is why, at a point in my life when I am beginning to think about legacy and exactly what I want to leave behind and what I’ve yet to do, I am committed to speaking about health.

What is health? To get back to the original question, after years of exploration and study, the conclusion I came to is this: Health relies on balance. In essence, health IS balance.

To remain in balance, or equilibrium, we need to be able to adjust to the many fluctuations of life, both physically and psychologically. As an example, if you’re out in the hot summer sun for too long, your body will experience symptoms such as sweating and thirst. The sweating cools the body, and the thirst prompts us to drink water to counteract what the body loses in sweating. Notice how these symptoms help the body maintain balance, as well as to give us a warning that we’re out of balance. Suppressing or ignoring those symptoms would ultimately result in a shut-down of physical functions and we would die.

Health is not the absence of symptoms—something the current Big Pharma-influenced paradigm wants you to believe—because symptoms are often the body’s or mind’s way of letting us know that things aren’t in balance so that we can address that imbalance before it becomes dangerous. Symptoms are helpful in maintaining health.

An awful lot of what we call “healthcare” in our country is not about caring for our health, but about suppressing symptoms, the symptoms that warn us that we’re out of balance. In short, we sabotage nature’s primary healing mechanism.

Being healthy doesn’t mean you never get sick; it means you and your body are able to return to balance quickly in all or most circumstances. For example, perhaps you get the flu. You’re pretty sick for a couple of days. Then you gradually start feeling better, and within a week you’re up and around again. You can consider yourself healthy, since your body was able to adapt to the challenge of the virus and regain its equilibrium (another word for balance).

On the other hand, say you get the flu and you’re pretty sick for a couple of days. You continue to get sicker and sicker, and ten days later you end up in the hospital with pneumonia. You’re not healthy, since your body was unable to regain its equilibrium.

In the next segment we’ll explore this further and start to look at ways to return to balance or maintain balance and to experience true health in our lives.  I have an easy method—one that can accommodate all kinds of lifestyles, diets and preferences—that you can use to keep yourself in balance—that is, healthy. It might take a little while to get to the punch line, and I hope you’ll be patient and come along, as I’m sure you’ll find the end result beneficial.

In the meantime, think about what health means to you, and whether you think you’re healthy.  That’s your assignment!

See Elena’s bios for more information about the author.

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